Finding a ‘new normal’ is a challenge for vulnerable clients and those acting as their Deputy

Rita Bhargava, Partner in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, private client team.
Rita Bhargava
2 min Read

It has now been nearly nine weeks since the Government lockdown and we are all trying to find a ‘new normal’. For those of us who specialise in capacity work and act for vulnerable clients this has presented new challenges.

Our duty as Attorney or Deputy of the Court of Protection to support and assist our vulnerable clients has meant continually adapting to find new ways to ensure they are protected, cared for and their needs are being met.  Just because we're under lockdown the challenges for vulnerable clients haven’t changed. 

I have been impressed with how quickly some care homes reacted, closing their doors to visitors long before the lockdown was introduced. Some carers also agreed not to see their families so they could limit residents’ exposure to the virus.

To assist with this we have arranged Zoom calls where possible and requested the carers to send photos and regular updates to families. While this cannot replace spending time with your loved ones in person, it does provide reassurance that they are being well cared for. For those who are vulnerable and having to isolate at home, we have arranged weekly calls, and, where appropriate, arranged for carers to attend while strictly following Government protocol.

My vulnerable clients range from 6 to 96 years of age and suffer from varying degrees of capacity issues ranging from brain damage at birth to conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease. For those in specialist care placements, Covid-19 has made it impossible to go home for regular family visits which are essential for their well-being and mental health.

I would normally visit my clients regularly in person to discuss their needs, care plans and ensure they are being safeguarded but as this is not possible at present, we have all had to embrace technology at great speed. Care homes have responded positively and have been very imaginative in ways of allowing us to communicate with our clients whether that be by Skype/Zoom/Whatsapp, email or telephone conference. Praise must be given to the carers in care homes who I have found to be patient, dedicated and caring towards residents.

While we're finding different ways to communicate with our clients it can never replace a face-to-face meeting. However, in the meantime, a Zoom call does provide a good alternative until we can meet again in person, which will hopefully be soon.

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